Look for increasing development of bioplastics for the medical market. In one of the more interesting announcements at last month’s MD&M show in Anaheim, CA, Arkema said it is in the process of developing a sustainable, bio-based acrylic polymer for medical devices that will feature extremely high impact strength. Introduction is scheduled for mid-2011.
No details are currently available, but it’s expected the compound will be an acrylic blended with polylactic acid (PLA), possibly in the 20 to 40 percent range. That route would be no surprise because Arkema is a major developer of additives that boost performance (particularly impact resistance) o of PLA, which is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from corn starch, sugar cane, and other crops, even tapioca.
Arkema scientists are looking for feedstocks that could produce acrylic in place of methyl methacrylate (MMA), which is in very short supply. Demand for MMA is rising, but supply is declining due to plant closings. Major chemical producers, such as Dow, are putting less emphasis on bulk petrochemicals. Climate change is also an issue in the biomonomer development, but not the key driver.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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